It’s tax time, so I have to justify my $50 deduction for subscribing to “The New Yorker.” An article in the March 13th issue made my blood boil. The article, “Political Science” is subtitled, “The Bush Administration’s war on the laboratory.”
I haven’t attacked our fearless leader in a long time”why kick a man when he’s down? But his leadership is stifling scientific study at great human cost. For example: what if there was a vaccine that could save hundreds of thousands of lives per year? Wouldn’t we want our daughters vaccinated to minimize their risk of cervical cancer?
Such a vaccine does exist but the FDA is not approving it. The inoculation would protect women against HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. Some strains of HPV are an underlying cause of cancer. The vaccine against HPV has proven effective on more than 12,000 women in thirteen countries.
Why isn’t this vaccine being made available to the American public? Because the moralists in the Bush Administration insist that promiscuity is the cause of cervical cancer. They believe the vaccine would serve as yet another license for girls to go wild.
This is dangerous thinking: that sinners deserve to suffer and die for their immoral behavior, rather than being saved by the advances of science. It goes along with the administration’s preaching on abstinence as the only guard against disease and unwanted pregnancies.
Speaking of unwanted pregnancies, I don’t see how abortion opponents can be against another scientific breakthrough that is being withheld from the American public: the “morning after” pill. Wouldn’t this pill greatly reduce the number of abortions? No, the moralists say, it only encourages sleeping around.
Getting back to the administration’s refusal to embrace scientific achievement, look no further than stem cell research. In 2001, Bush announced he would not permit federal money to be used to create new stem cell lines or carry out research with the ones we have. Scientists weren’t the only ones outraged. Most Americans favor research that might lead to cures for cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s.
Let’s get off disease and talk about global warming. The Bush Administration does not admit it exists and the US will not sign the Kyoto Treaty to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Bush favors a plan whereby industries “voluntarily” reduce their emissions.
This is madness and our grandchildren may suffer the effects of irreversible climate change. There are small things we can do in Forest Park to fight global warming. We can drive our cars less, not allow remaining green space to be gobbled up by development and encourage businesses to cultivate roof gardens.
But to get back to “The New Yorker,” I’ll quote health advocate David Baltimore: “I never thought that now, in the 21st century, we would have a debate about what to do with a vaccine that prevents cancer?”